Regular readers will know this isn’t a body image blog – unless we are talking about gratuitous images of men’s bodies (and even then I aim to be delightfully cheeky rather than exploitative – I do my reverse sexism with class baby Yeh). The reason as I have repeatedly tried to explain, is that there is simply too much in the media about female bodies. The Daily Life section of the Sydney Morning Herald has at least one positive body image or anti body image shaming type article every single gosh darn day. Other popular women’s websites serve these posts up like supermarket eggs – by the dozen. ( I’m not mentioning any names as I am still trying to suck up to the popular women’s websites. It’s questionable strategy – alas).
I’m a singular voice in the wilderness saying “Pssst. Positive body image is great but women (and men ) are more than our bodies. Lets focus on women’s minds and hearts. Lets show the world what women are doing in the home, workplace and community at large.” However I feel like I’m trying to deflect a tsunami with my bare hands. As long as body image articles continue to attract clicks by the millions the media will continue to reel them off with alarming frequency.
Today I’m contradicting my own stance. I don’t feel quite right about it but whilst Mumabulous claims to be many things “pure of heart” has never been one of them. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I am weighing in on the Renee Zellweger/ Uma Thurman face debacle. I’m doing an ‘about face’ as it were.
Even if you are not a fan of the tattle rags and gossip sites you probably know that these two actresses have recently come under much scrutiny over their radically altered appearance. Renee no longer looks like herself. Uma looks like Uma but with oddly stretched skin. Whatever she had done was overdone.
Debate raged for days (which is an eternity in social media time) but the politically correct consensus was that these women have the right to do whatever they like with their face and bodies and the rest of us should simple butt the hell out and shut the f^*k up.
Yes – they do have the right to do whatever they like with their bodies and personal attacks upon these individual is abhorrent. BUT why can’t we discuss the forces behind these choices? To me, that women (and increasingly men) are turning to radical cosmetic surgery in droves is symptomatic of a messed up society. People age. We can’t prevent people from aging. Nevertheless society can’t seem to accept aging as a natural part of life.
I doubt that Renee or Uma would have chosen expensive, painful and risky procedures if they didn’t think believe careers depended on it. Ironically having alot of work done doesn’t make a person look young. Cosmetic work simply looks like cosmetic work. The roles that are available for more mature women go to actresses like Meryl Streep, Judi Dench and Helen Miren – women who are believable. By contrast I can’t think of the last part (the beautiful but cosmetically assisted) Demi Moore played other than aging beauty dumped by toy boy husband for a much younger woman. Oops that was IRL.
People will always want to gaze at young attractive types. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. However there is more to life than beauty and sexuality. It would be refreshing if our entertainment could reflect life across all its stages. I hate myself for agreeing with Russel Crowe but I was nodding along when he said “The point is, you do have to be prepared to accept that there are stages in life. So I can’t be the Gladiator forever.” It would be nice if the Hollywood machine, the media at large and audiences shared Russell view.
In the meantime there’s an non retouched photo of super model Cindy Crawford currently floating around the interwebs. As one of the original set of supermodels Cindy Crawford was the standard to which mere mortal women could never live up to. Even Cindy a symbol of unearthly beauty has aged.
If Cindy Crawford can’t hold back the years forever there’s no hope for any of us. Aging is part of life. Get used to it.
I don’t wish to criticize Renee, Uma or even Bruce Jenner for choosing cosmetic help but I do question the values of a society where people feel they need to do it to keep their careers.
Aging? Can you deal with it on screen and in real life?